Monday, June 29, 2015

Reminder: Kirkland Independence Day Parade

Seattle Base and the Silent Service Motorcycle Club will be participating in the Kirkland parade on Saturday July 4, 2015. The City of Kirkland goes all out for veterans and always has treats, a pizza lunch, and boutonnieres for all military members and veterans in the parade. This year there will be special convertibles automobiles available for all World War 2 veterans so we will not have additional vehicles.
Seattle Base float at the 2014 parade
As usual, we will meet near Heritage Hall, the large white two-story building on the north side of the corner of Central Way and Market Street. The Seattle Base float will be in place around 9:30 and all members and motorcycles should be in place by 10:00.

To get to the assembly area from I-405, you take Exit 18 off of 405, head west toward Kirkland. This road turns into Central Way. Follow Central until you reach Market and turn right to find parking at Heritage Park. You’ll pass Heritage Hall while looking for parking.
An overview of the parade area (click on the image to get a larger view)
The city will start closing down streets near the parade route around 9:30. If you are arriving after that time it is best to plan to enter the assembly area from the north heading south down Market Street.

The Children’s Parade starts at 11:30, followed by the main parade at noon.

We hope to see you there!

Remember, we will be returning to Kirkland on August 15 for the Tolling the Boats ceremony at the Kirkland Marina Pavilion.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

June 2015 Meeting Notes

We started the June meeting started off with Tolling the Boats lost in June, followed by birthday wishes for our members, officer reports, and introductions.

Old and New Business: 
Base Events – We talked about the events that had happened since the last meeting, including Armed Forces Day at Cabela’s, Memorial Day at Tahoma National Cemetery, the Cruzin to Colby Car Show, and Flag Day at Bass Pro Shop. We were able to take in over $700 in donations at the Cabela’s, Cruzin to Colby, and Bass Pro Shop events, so the treasury is feeling better.

The Smokey Point Rest Stop fund raiser on July 1st through the 3rd will be our next event. We will post a list of the shifts everyone has signed up for, but be sure to contact Steve Shelton if you want to join us at Smokey Point.

Remember to check the Base Activities Calendar page for more upcoming events.
Seattle Base and SSMC members at the 2014 Kirkland Independence Day Parade
Kirkland Independence Day Parade – Once again, Seattle Base and the Silent Service Motorcycle Club will be at the Kirkland Independence Day Parade. You should have gotten an email with the initial information and we will post a reminder here on the blog. We will meet at Heritage Hall at Lake Ave West in downtown Kirkland around 9:30. The city will start closing down streets near the parade route around 9:30. The parade organizers will have pizza available for us. The kid’s parade starts at 11:30 and the main parade starts at 12:00. We hope to see you at this fun community event.

Base Float Update – We will be moving the float and shelter to Arlene Ritzhaupt property sometime after the Tolling ceremony in August. We will be asking for volunteers to help level the area and set up the shelter in the new location at that time.

June Program: 
Our speaker for June was Charles Smith. Charles was a Naval Aviator who flew the Lockheed P-3 Orion in PATRON 10 and also had responsibilities for the Trident C-4 missile recovery and range accuracy testing program from Cape Canaveral. Charles also spent some familiarization time sailing aboard USS Trepang (SSN-674), USS Turner Joy (DD-951), and several other Navy ships during overseas deployments. Following a distinguished Naval Career, he retired in 1982 as a LCDR. He has been a docent at the Museum of Flight since 2007 and was one of the first docents at the LeMay “America’s Auto Museum” in Tacoma.
Charles Smith talking about Eddie Rickenbacker
Charles presentation was about the life of Eddie Rickenbacker. He started out with Rickenbacker’s family and early childhood in Columbus Ohio. He went on to talk about Eddie’s aptitude for engines and cars that led him to become a race car driver. Before World War I Rickenbacker participated in four Indianapolis 500 races, along with numerous other racing events around the US and Europe.

When the US entered World War I in 1917, Eddie volunteered for the Army and to be a pilot. He was assigned to the 94th Aero Squadron and would eventually become its commanding officer. During the war he was credited with 26 victories, the most of any American pilot until late in World War II.

After the war, Eddie went back to the automotive industry, but kept a hand in aviation too. He started his own motor company in 1920 and in 1927 purchased the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which he owned until 1945. In the mid-30s, Eddie purchased Eastern Airlines and oversaw many radical changes in the field of commercial aviation.

During World War II Rickenbacker was involved with the Army and State Department. While working for the Army his B-17 was forced to ditch and spent 24 days at sea in life rafts in the Pacific. After his rescue he went to the Soviet Union and other Allied countries to help out with the war effort.

After World War II “Captain Eddie” continued to run Eastern Airlines and became a well-known public speaker. Rickenbacker died in 1973 while on a trip to Switzerland.

We thank Charles for the detailed and interesting program on the life of an American hero.
Base Commander Dick Gonzalez presents Charles Smith with a Certificate of Appreciation (with USS Trepang on the certificate)
Good of the Order: 
Binnacle List: 
  • Horton and Lei Lah Smith are currently both going through physical rehabilitation. They are not seeing visitors at this time, but hope to join us for the Tolling the Boats ceremony in August. 
  • Roy Burt took a spill on his motorcycle during a recent SSMC ride. He is currently recovering and starting his own rehabilitation. He isn’t taking visitors right now, but would love to get phone calls of encouragement. 

Seattle Base Raffle – After the meeting we drew the winning ticket for the Seattle Base Raffle. The winner is Bremerton Base member Ray Pitts. Congratulations to Ray and BZ to Pat Householder for organizing this fund raising event for us.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Shipmate Spotlight - Ralph Sterley

USSVI Seattle Base Shipmate Ralph Roland Sterley was born in Wenatchee WA on Aug 13, 1925. His father worked for the Great Northern Railroad and they lived on a one acre plot with fruit trees and various farm animals as well.

In 1943, following graduation from Wenatchee High School, Ralph joined the Navy on August 5 and was sent to Boot Camp at Camp Waldron, Farragut ID. Selected for training as a Radio Technician (RADAR), Ralph was sent first to a Pre-Radio course at Wright Jr College in Chicago, IL, then to Primary Radio School at Texas A & M, College Station TX, Secondary School at Treasure Island, CA and finally to Submarine Radio School at the Submarine Base in New London.

Ralph travelled across country again to San Francisco where he boarded a Troop ship with a number of other sailors being deployed to the Pacific. They stopped in San Diego to pick up a Marine Division and then, loaded to the gunwales, they sailed westward “to the Fray.”

Arriving in Pearl Harbor, Ralph left the ship and was transferred to the new Submarine Tender USS Apollo, which departed on December 10th for its new station at Apra Harbor, Guam. Ralph was placed in Submarine Relief Crew 282, where he helped refit and repair submarines returning from War Patrol while awaiting crew assignment to a submarine.
USS Sea Owl (SS-405)
In January 1945 USS Sea Owl arrived at Guam fresh off her first war patrol and on Jan 30 1945 Ralph was transferred aboard to replace a man being reassigned. Sea Owl departed Guam with Piranha and Puffer (the group was known as Bennett’s Blazers) assigned to patrol the Luzon Strait and the South China Sea. Sea Owl was provided ULTRA intelligence that a Japanese submarine was assigned to bring rice supplies to Wake Island for the beleaguered defenders.

On April 16, Ralph on radar watch aboard Sea Owl, picked up the Submarine on radar about 7 miles NW of Wake Island and over several days they tracked the sub into Wake Harbor where the Japanese submarine docked and started unloading her cargo. Skipper CDR Carter Bennett fired three torpedoes at 1,600 yards. Two of the torpedoes did not detonate, but the third struck the pier and exploded, demolishing the pier.

While aboard Sea Owl they believed the Japanese submarine had sunk, the I-372 immediately dove and remained submerged until the following day when it resurfaced, completed unloading and evacuated 29 personnel back to Yokosuka, Japan.

Aboard Sea Owl, Ralph ‘won’ a fifth of Whiskey for being the first to spot the Japanese warship. Not being a drinker, he raffled it off to a Torpedoman and they reported to the XO to collect the prize where they learned to their disappointment that they could not have it until the boat reached Midway, which they did on April 21st.

Following refit, Ralph and Sea Owl got underway for her third war patrol from Midway on May 20 1945 in company with Puffer and Tirante. This patrol was concentrated in the Yellow and East China Seas and was assigned both offensive patrol and lifeguard duties. Nineteen days out, two Japanese destroyers were contacted and a spread of six Mark 18 torpedoes were fired from a perfect set-up. The first torpedo struck a destroyer amidships, detonating her magazine and blowing up the ship from the moment of impact. The other five torpedoes passed harmlessly through the wreckage without exploding.

As she rigged for depth change in only 200 ft of water the remaining destroyer, in company with two patrol craft, came looking for Sea Owl with a vengeance, dropping 84 depth charges over a 14 hour period, shaking up the boat and crew but doing no serious material damage. Ralph recalls that the air was so foul that cigarettes could not be lit.

In a gun action four days later Sea Owl destroyed a large rice-laden four-masted schooner, capturing four prisoners. On July 2nd Sea Owl got a call that aviators were in the water. After racing 135 miles, just before nightfall she picked up six fliers who had been in rafts four days. All six had various minor injuries which were treated and they remained aboard Sea Owl assisting the crew for the rest of the patrol until she tied up at the Submarine Base at Pearl Harbor.
Sea Owl's Battle Flag
Sea Owl was preparing for her fourth War Patrol at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese surrendered on 15 August.
Ralph (left) with his sister Betty, in her WAC uniform, and Albert E. “Willie” Willis RM2(SS) in New York City in late 1945
The boat returned to the United States, passing through the Panama Canal and docking at Galveston TX for a month while half the crew was given 30 days leave. Sea Owl then transited to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard for overhaul. While at Portsmouth, Ralph purchased a decrepit 1938 vintage jalopy, which some of his Motor Mac shipmates helped him to overhaul. Ralph was transferred April 1 1946 to the Separation Center in Boston for discharge with a final rank of ETM2(SS).

Upon discharge, Ralph drove his car across country back to Wenatchee to be reunited with his family and using the GI Bill, he enrolled at University of Washington. His first semester Ralph met Frances “Elaine” Baumgardner from Yakima and in 1947 he married this lovely girl of his dreams.
Frances “Elaine” Baumgardner
The GI Bill helped to financially support Ralph and Elaine, but he needed to do part time work, some after school and some during summer vacation. Ralph worked at Fisher Flour Mill in Seattle doing hard manual labor. He recalls how hot and dusty it was, and riding the dangerous ‘man-lifts’ between floors.

Following graduation as an Electrical Engineer, Ralph worked for Boeing Aircraft Company for about 18 months, doing development work on the conversion of the Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter into the KC-97 aerial refueling tanker aircraft.
A KC-97
He recalls one of the other Engineers on the project, Donald ‘Deke’ K. Slayton, who has been a WWII Bomber Pilot and was an Aeronautical Engineer. Deke went on to a very distinguished career as an Air Force Test Pilot, was one of the original Mercury Seven Astronauts, became Chief of the Astronaut Office for NASA when grounded due to atrial fibrillation, and finally medically cleared to fly, became the Docking Module Pilot on the 1975 Apollo-Soyuz mission.

Ralph then accepted a position as Electronics Engineer with the Bonneville Power Administration at Covington Substation in 1951, was transferred to The Dalles in 1952 as Communications District Supervisor, transferred to Snohomish as Communications District Supervisor in 1955, helped his father-in-law build his house in Snohomish in 1957 and raised nine children there. Transferred to Spokane in 1972 as Area Supervisor Power System Control, then to Seattle in 1977 in the same position and retired from BPA in 1986.

Following retirement from BPA, Ralph did some work for the Hat Island Fire Department, was Exec VP of Tronica Technology, built houses with his son in Snohomish, was the on-site supervisor for the construction of a small commercial building in Everett and was the site construction supervisor for the Westridge Apts in Everett.

In 2001 Ralph joined our local USSVI chapter (Seattle Base) and has been an active participant since, participating in Parades, Memorial Services, Tolling the Boat events and various other Base Activities. Ralph is the Base COB and also the Base Storekeeper.

Sadness came into Ralph’s life on June 22, 2007 when after 60 years of marriage that produced seven children, fourteen grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren, Elaine completed her earthly mission and her soul returned to her Lord. They also raised two nephews.

In 2013 Ralph was one of 36 WWII Puget Sound area veterans selected for an “Honor Flight” to visit the WWII Memorial in Washington DC.

You could not meet a nicer man than our Shipmate Ralph. Modest and self effacing, quiet but with a ready smile for all. Now 89 years along, his hearing is somewhat diminished, but he is otherwise in good health and his activity belies his years.

June 2015 Meeting Reminder

The next Seattle Base meeting is this coming Wednesday, June 17. We will meet at VFW Post #2995 (4330 148th Ave N.E., Redmond WA 98052). Social hour starts at 6 PM with business meeting at 7PM.

Our guest speaker will be Charles Smith, a former Naval Aviator who flew the Lockheed P-3 Orion in PATRON 10 and also had responsibilities for the Trident C-4 missile recovery and range accuracy testing program from Cape Canaveral. Charles also spent some familiarization time sailing aboard USS Trepang (SSN-674), USS Turner Joy (DD-951) and several other Navy ships during overseas deployments. Following a distinguished Naval Career, he retired in 1982 as a LCDR. He has been a docent at the Museum of Flight since 2007 and was one of the first docents at the LeMay “America’s Auto Museum” in Tacoma.
Captain Eddie Rickenbacker
An engaging speaker and sought after because of his keen sense of and love of American History, Charles will offer us an excellent presentation on the life and successes of American hero Edward “Eddie” Rickenbacker. Rickenbacker flew a total of 300 combat hours, reportedly more than any other U.S. pilot in World War I, and is credited with 26 victories (thirteen Fokker D.VIIs, four other German fighters, five highly defended observation balloons, and four two-seated reconnaissance planes). Rickenbacker remained the top scoring American Ace until well into WWII.
A SPAD XIII painted in Rickenbacker's colors
"Capt Eddie’s” WWI Military awards included the Medal of Honor, Nine Distinguished Service Crosses, the Legion of Honor (France), and the Croix de Guerre (France). There is much more as well. Between WWI and WWII Rickenbacker was the most celebrated Aviator in American and wrote a book about his WWI flying experiences, was President of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for over a decade, scripted a successful comic strip about “Ace Drummond” and founded Eastern Airlines.

During WWII as a civilian and at the request of Secretary of War Stimson, he made a tour in a B-17 of Air Bases in the Pacific to review both operations and living conditions. At one point the Bomber had to ditch and the passengers and crew drifted thousands of miles and for 24 days before “Capt Eddie” and the others were rescued.

The story does not end there and Charles will provide us an image of an American icon and patriot that you will enjoy. Put this on your calendar because you will not want to miss this presentation!

All area Submarine Veterans, current members or not, friends, and family are invited to join with us for this informative and interesting talk.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Eternal Patrol: Phil Ward

Seattle Base Member Phil Ward departed on Eternal Patrol on May 15, 2015 after a heroic and long battle with colon cancer. He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Kay, daughters, Kathleen Ward and Kristine Gregoire, and wonderful grandchildren, Zachery and Justine Gregoire.

Phil attended Lincoln High School and was a graduate of City University. Phil joined the Navy in 1957 and qualified in submarines on USS Tilefish (SS-307) in 1958. He went on to serve on USS Mero (SS-378) when it was converted to a Fleet Snorkel boat and assisted when it was transferred to the Turkish Navy. Phil was a EN3(SS) when he left the Navy in 1960. He was a founding member of Silverlake Winery and served on its board for many years. He was active in the Seattle Base USSVI.

Phil’s ashes will be scattered at sea by the US Navy. Please remember Phil’s family in your thoughts and prayers.

Sailor, Rest Your Oar.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Nuclear Submarine Evolution

I recently came across the following images showing the evolution of American and Russian (Soviet) nuclear submarines posted by Naval Graphics on Twitter.The last image is for Russian/Soviet diesel attack submarines.

The graphics miss some subs (for example, the American SSN image doesn't have USS Nautilus), but overall are pretty complete. 

It is interesting to see the changes for both the US and Russian/Soviet submarines and I hope you enjoy looking at the graphics as much as I did. Note, you can click on an image to view a larger version.
American Nuclear Powered Attack Submarine (SSN) Evolution
American Nuclear Powered Ballistic Missile Submarine (SSBN) Evolution
Russian/Soviet Nuclear Powered Attack Submarine (SSN) Evolution
Russian/Soviet Nuclear Powered Ballistic Missile Submarine (SSBN) Evolution
 Russian/Soviet Nuclear Powered Guided Missile Submarine (SSGN) Evolution
Russian/Soviet Diesel/Electric Attack Submarine (SS) Evolution